This year was the first time I went to Pride. I’ve recognized the importance of Pride for years though, as someone who didn’t have queer representation in my life for far too long. Seeing Pride parades and events with hundreds of gay people just being themselves and being happy made me realize that I’m not as alone as I thought.
As a queer activist, I know the LGBTQ+ community has been in the crossfire of hate crimes for decades. Black trans women are targeted on a large scale, and queer youth are more likely to die by suicide. Gun violence is an intersectional issue, and it is impossible to fix gun violence without addressing those intersectionalities—including how gun violence disproportionately affects the LGBTQ+ community.
Anti-LGBTQ+ bias motivated 17 percent of reported hate crimes in 2020.
63 percent of known trans homicide victims were Black women.
Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, Transgender Homicide Tracker, 2017–2021.
I’ve been involved with Students Demand Action for three years. I was inspired to join Students Demand Action because I felt lawmakers were doing nothing to protect the lives of children, and it was painful to see headline after headline about shootings knowing that there were thousands more gun violence victims whose stories never got told.
I’m most proud of the community that we have built in Students Demand Action to support one another. Gun violence prevention is incredibly hard work, and to have people to rely on when you need a shoulder to cry on or to plan an event is inspiring.
It’s really easy to fall into only talking about marginalized communities—including those at the intersection of gun violence and LGBTQ+ rights—when it’s highlighted by society as a whole during Pride Month, but those voices should be uplifted throughout the year. It’s important to recognize that queer people do not stop being queer on July 1. We live with this every day, as do other marginalized communities.
Discussions about LGBTQ+ issues have certainly changed over time, but these issues are still not talked about enough. Our society is very cisgender-oriented, which makes it hard to exist as a nonbinary trans individual because I know that the system was not made for me. At my high school in particular, it is still something that is not discussed enough, and you put a target on your back when you come out.
To other LGBTQ+ young people who are struggling with your identity, I want you to know that finding your identity does not define your worth. Don’t feel as if you need to have a label to feel seen and valued. You are incredibly you, and that is all anyone can want you to be. Don’t define all of humanity by the worst of us. There is a community who loves and supports you for being queer, regardless of what others think. We’re here for you.